Monday, August 14, 2017

Great neighbors

Not only did we have Elise's best friend visit us from the states but we happen to live right next door to some great friends as well. We count ourselves lucky to share a property boundary with such awesome neighbors. They too, are from the U.S. and chose to move out here for a simpler lifestyle. We find conversation is much easier to hold with those who are not stressed out or in a perpetual hurry. Our neighbors prove that one of the best aspects of living abroad are the bonds you create by meeting new people.

Mombacho poking through the trees to the left.

Inside a chicken coop.

Our neighbors have an awesome tree house under a mango tree. 

Kids enjoy being with animals. 

Roasting marshmallows near the tree house. 

Turtle success at playa el Coco and la Flor

Below are images from our last visit to Playa el Coco and la Flor maritime park. Well, happy to say, we finally got to witness a turtle hatchling make its' way, safely to the ocean. We are so stoked about that! What made it more amazing is that Timothy, the 12 year old son of Elise's best friend, stumbled across the tiny turtle trying to dig it's way out of the sand within 30 seconds of stepping on the beach. Yeah, that's right within 30 seconds. Watching the newborn struggle on the beach made me appreciate adult turtles even more, considering how few of them actually make it to adulthood. 
   We loved our stay at the beach and still remark how few people we ever see there. On our last morning at Playa el Coco we believe we saw sharks eating an adult turtle in the shallow waters just off the beach from our house. Prior to rushing back to the house and getting my camera, the kids and I observed what appeared to be the the upper front right torso and flipper of the turtle bobbing in the water while sharks aggressively sloshed around it. It was a good lesson for the kids, experiencing the cycle of life and death, even though it was sad to see.  

Every sunset is magical.

Beautiful, wide, empty beach.

When mom and dad set down our drinks and decide to take a swim :) 

One of the rare family photos as I am usually the camera man.

Searching the shallows for animal life.

Sierra is not afraid to catch a crab.

The shimmering lights make the beach romantic at sunset.

Timothy playing the Hulk midst the picturesque lights of sunset.

Some of the damaged turtle eggs on display at the maritime park headquarters.

The maritime headquarters gathers eggs from the nest on the beach so they can be hatched and safely released in to the ocean. 

Our little guy that Timothy so quickly found.

We shinned a red light on the turtle so as to not confuse it.

A dead puffer fish laying on the beach.

Zoe surfing 

Elise enjoying some quite time on our hammock.

The morning cow strolls on the beach were neat to see.

Though the picture doesn't show much, this is what we believe to be a dead turtle with sharks chomping on it. We watched this for about 15 minutes to better understand what was happening.

A mountain retreat

One of our really good friends has parents that live on the cool, elevated slopes of Mombacho. Their house reminds me of what makes country living so special with unspoiled nature surrounding their abode. In fact, a large troop of howler monkeys regularly hangs out in the trees above their deck.
    As many people know, living in the tropics can get uncomfortably warm at times. However, living a couple thousand feet above sea level dramatically cools the air to a nearly perfect mid 70's year round. These Aussie/Canadian retirees love the relaxed atmosphere of living amongst nature, and why not, right? Over the years, seeing others living happy lifestyles has really impacted our perception of what a full life can be. As these wonderful people demonstrate, happiness can truly be an everyday occurrence.

Chatting on the deck prior to getting lunch ready.

The home has plenty of country ambiance.

Possibly the most charming BBQ area I have ever seen.

Zone of tranquility.

Cool, quiet, pure serenity.
Well maintained property.

My SUV parked next to the guest house and the gardener maintaining the property.

Leaving the large old growth trees keeps the house shaded during sunny days.
The early stages of prepping our meal.

Children doing what they do best, having fun.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Granada in 5 days

About a month ago we had some very good friends visit us from the states. Prior to coming out here they questioned whether 5 full days would be enough to see the sites around town. Elise and I felt confident that it would be a good first start to Granada, so they came. Below are the activities that we did, of which are easily doable, while visiting this area. Most importantly, these guys are well-seasoned travelers and go all over, to places like Argentina to visit ranches, Guatemala for fishing expeditions, etc. So their honest opinion of Granada would mean a lot to us. And it did. They left feeling like they wanted more and struggled to explain why they hadn't come sooner. They were impressed with the locals, the natural settings, and felt at ease the entire time. Below are pictures from their stay and we hope they give you some ideas on your trip to Nicaragua as well:

Day 1: Tour Granada, restaurants, and relax
The first day is usually a day of orientation and making a game plan. Thankfully there are many excellent restaurants in Granada to help ease the transition. Granada is an easy walking town for adults but while traveling with kids maybe a horse drawn carriage is an easier way to cover larger distances.  

Day 2: Laguna de Apoyo and a lot more relaxing 
The unspoiled beauty of Laguna de Apoyo makes it a spot that we willingly keep going back to visit. There are several resorts along the lagoon that make it easy to enjoy the lake while having the conveniences of boats, restaurants and restrooms. 

Day 3: Donating to charity and ziplining 
We loved how our friends brought goodies to give to the children in the poorer barrios. They made it simple and effective when it came to their donations. They brought about a 50% toys and 50% clothing type materials. Seeing how their gesture brightens the day of others is what giving is all about.  

After the donations were through we went zipling. The kids obviously had a blast, but hearing the wives giggle and laugh with such joy while sliding down the cables is what I enjoyed the most. Ziplining is an easy adventure and since they are located at the base of Mombacho volcano, it's only a 20 minute drive from Granada.

Day 4: Butterfly garden and Masaya volcano
The kids definitely wanted to go back to the butterfly garden to see the latest action over there. Though the drive sometime feels sketchy the people along the way are just wonderful. In fact, My buddy, Kyle, remarked how the kids were playing with simple items like a wheel and were having the time of their lives. He went on to say that more parents in the U.S. need to see this, and how simple kid's needs can be 

After the butterfly garden we relaxed at home for a while than left at exactly 5pm for the Volcano. You don't want to leave much later than that otherwise the line at the park entrance gets too long. The night we were at Masaya volcano the lava was sloshing around more than usual thereby creating distorted images on the crater walls (like the first image below) also gas fumes were pretty intense so we only stayed a short while. 

Day 5: Party boat lake Nicaragua 
We went aboard the Bella Mar party boat for a private cruise for all of our friends. To say we had a blast is an understatement . I'll let the pictures of our friends do the talking.